Monday, October 7, 2019

Not Your Grandma's Carrot Cake. 3 Spice Carrot Cake Indian Style From Asha Gomez

   Ah, Carrot Cake! That spicy cinnamony heavy cake loaded with dense cream cheese frosting, carrot cake could often back in the day be mistaken for a door stop,. for some reason I always seem to associate it with the '70s and not in a good way, and so around here carrot cake has always been as dead as disco. Well, news flash. There's a new carrot cake in town and it's nothing like the old one thanks to Atlanta Ga master chef  Asha Gomez  @ashagomez

   Asha Gomez is the owner of Spice to Table in Atlanta. In 2013 her restaurant Cardamom hill won the James Beard Award Nomination for Best New Restaurant, and once you try her carrot cake you'll understand why. The recipe for this cake originated from her mother in Kerala, South India and the flavors and spices called for here take one out of every 1970's hippie-dippy diner party and into the present where this version of the old favorite rules!

    I've been baking this cake a LOT, it's that popular, and I have baked both a regular version and also a gluten free version using the flour blend I developed when I was working with Cocoa Planet Modern French Cafe developing their gluten free menu. This cake is a winner, made for birthday parties  (it easily feeds 16 people) or any sort of family celebration. I have a feeling - actually I've been ordered - that this is going to be on our holiday table this coming season.  I LOVE this cake!! So without further ado  here's Asha Gomezs Three Spice Carrot Cake.

Three Spice Carrot Cake


Here's What You Need:


The Cake:

2 Tbs unsalted butter for greasing cake pans
3 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour plus  some extra for dusting the pans
1 Tbs baking powder
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 Tbs coarse freshly ground black peppercorns
2 tsps ground cloves
2 Tbs  green cardamom powder
2 cups of white sugar
9 large eggs
1 and 3/4 cups canola oil 6 carrots peeled and grated ( 3 cups)

The Frosting:

1 and 1/2 lbs cream cheese at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups of sifted powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 Tbs fresh ground black peppercorns
1 Tbs green cardamom powder
1 tsp ground cloves

Here's What To Do:


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease two 10 inch round cake  pans.
Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper and sides of the pans.

Dust the sides and the paper bottom with flour. Tap out any excess.

 Grate carrots in a food processor and set them aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together in a bowl.

Then mix in  the ground black pepper...


...and cloves.

 Set this aside.
In an electric mixer set on medium speed, whisk together  the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Keeping the mixer running, add the oil slowly to maintain the emulsion.

When the oil has been added, put the dry ingredients in (the flour mixture).

Mix on medium speed for another 3 minutes until it's all blended.

Now add the carrots and mix for another 2 minutes.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans.

Divide the batter evenly and tap the pans to release any air bubbles.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in their pans on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cakes to loosen them and turn them out onto the racks to cool completely.

Time to make the frosting.

Here's What To Do:


In an electric mixer using a paddle, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy -  about 3 to 5 minutes.

Gradually add in the confectioners sugar, black peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves while beating at low speed for 3 to 4 minutes.
Using a serrated knife trim off the rounded tops of the cakes.

Place one trimmed cake cut side up on a platter.
spread  1 and 1/2 cups of frosting over the cake.
Top with the second half of the cake cut side down.
Spread another 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting over the top and sides.

Complete the cake frosting.

Refrigerate before serving.

  The cake is deliciously moist, and the spices are quite different from what most carrot cakes contain. No cinnamon or nutmeg. Don't be afraid of the black pepper as it makes this cake!!! The cake can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for about a week and as long as it's covered it stays moist. However don't count on keeping this one around very long. The last time I made it, everyone had two pieces which is absolutely unheard of around here!!

Coming up next, an easy weekday lunch or dinner, eggplant, scallops, and shrimp  with coconut rice.

Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Friday, September 13, 2019

If You Can't Dine At Downton Abbey, Bring A Little Downton Abbey Home With Canton Sorbet.

   I grew up as far away from Downton Abbey as one can get. I was raised in a working class row house, with three generations and one bathroom.  As I said, not exactly Downton Abbey. My dad was the child of immigrants and English was not his first language. My mother's family came to this country after the French Revolution. Evidently they didn't like how things were going for them over there so they decamped to New Orleans. She grew up quite differently. From her I learned that one wears only three pieces of jewelry at a time, white or bone shoes are only worn after Memorial day and up until Labor Day. No patent leather if you are not a child. A lady always wears gloves and hats and a lot of other useless information that didn't go with my station in life. It's hard to be elegant, when there's lines for the bathroom in ones own home.

   Mom's family didn't like my dad's family of socialist trade unionists and so she got "cut off." Meanwhile, before the wedding they gave her a full set of dishes, finger bowls, compote dishes, claret glasses etc for 12.  I am now wondering if they were trolling her, giving her this stuff she'd never get much use of, all of which I ended up inheriting. Dishes and glasses. That's what's left behind. All of it having to be hand washed. I don't use it often but it's the only souvenir of my moms family I have, so I bought some boxes and I kept it.  I've only used it a few times, one Easter dinner, and for Christmas once.
   The stuff didn't mean anything to mom, she was more interested in Big Top Peanut Butter and as the empty jars could be turned into...wait for it, Fancy Pants Goblets!!!

Needless to say we ate a LOT of peanut butter to get mom her set of glasses while the real deal was sitting in a box. After seeing endless ads for the Downton Abbey movie on TV and online, I figured now is the perfect time to break out some of mom's/grandma's old stuff.  I was watching a PBS show on amazon prime  Fannies Last Supper  about  a dinner  that was served,  reproduced from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook from the 1880's. I was intrigued, so I looked up the Fannie Farmer Cookbook online and there it was, the palate cleanser served between the canvas back duck and the sturgeon. Canton Sorbet.

   Canton Sorbet is a gingery citrus sorbet that is stupid easy to prepare, and  forget the palate cleanser. It can be served as a refreshing dessert, as I have been fresh out of canvas back duck and sturgeon for let's entire life! It's really delicious, especially on a warm summer night. I haven't served this to any kids yet but I'd think they'd  enjoy it too. So here goes.

Canton Sorbet

Here's What You Need:

4 cups of water
1/4 lb Canton ginger...aka regular ginger  don't let the appelation fool ya.
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Here's What To Do:

slice the ginger thinly and cut it into small pieces and set aside.

Squeeze the orange juice and set aside.

 Squeeze the lemon juice and set aside.

Pour the 4 cups of water into a large pot.
Add in the sugar.

Add in the cut up pieces of ginger, stir everything together well.

Bring to a boil, and let it boil for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, take the pot off the stove and add in the  orange and lemon juice.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then strain it.

Pour the strained liquid sorbet into molds.

You can use any old thing as a mold. I happened to have these silicon molds hanging around and found a good use for them.
Pop the whole thing to the freezer.
When ready to serve, un-mold.

And finally the capper, pour room temperature champagne or prosecco over the sorbet...

...and serve it up. I advise room temperature champagne or Prosecco because it will unfreeze the sorbet a bit and make it easier to eat.

Elegant, easy, just what the Dowanger Countess ordered, and now you can too.

   I haven't blogged as much the last several months as we've been trying to get the current project we're writing turn-in-able, but I have been cooking and Alan's been taking pictures and so I have a whole lot of things ready on the runway to share. Coming up next, eggplant, scallops and shrimp with coconut rice. This is a very simple yet tasty weekday lunch or dinner which looks a lot fancier then it is to make which is why it's in our family's meal rotation.

So follow along on twitter @kathygori 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Casarecce, Lemon, and Arugula. Fresh, Fast, The Easiest Summer Pasta Ever.

No one likes to cook on sweltering summer days, and I'm no exception, but sometimes there's no excuse, cook we must. Last week we had a short brutal heat wave here in Sonoma, where temps stayed at 100 + for a few days. It also happened to coincide with a visit from my cousins who live in Portland Oregon.

Things were cool and pleasant when they left the north. The first stop was in San Francisco at my cousin Amys' house where I heard it was cool and foggy. Then came Sonoma, the direct opposite of that. Of course we had certain blandishments that my 8 year old cousin just couldn't resist....mainly Tyrion. Kids and dogs are made for each other and speaking for Tyrion, he had the time of his life! High-fiving (the only trick Tyrion knows.)

So when not relaxing in air-conditioned comfort, my cousin had his heart set on going to Train Town, our local amusement park. It was over 100 degrees that afternoon  at 1:00 pm and we were nearly nearly the only people there. The last time they visited, my cuz was too little go on the rides he wanted  but this year it was roller coasters all the way, planes.

And hey, never ride a ferriswheel with metal seats, in shorts in blazing sun. It gets ouchy and that's putting it mildly. So after all that outdoor adventuring we wanted to eat something light, summery, and above all easy. Which brings me to Pasta with Lemon and Arugula. This is a no-recipe recipe, in that one can do almost anything with it. Dress it up, dress it down, eat it hot or cold. Here's what I did.

Here's What You Need:

1 Box of pasta. ( I used Casarecce shape, but Fusilli, or Penne would work well also.)
3 oz baby arugula
2 tsps lemon zest
3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup of grated  pecorino or romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Here's What To Do:

Boil the pasta.

While that's happening, prep your lemons and arugula.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to a skillet filled with the arugula,.

Stir it around. The arugula will wilt. This is a good thing.
Now, add the lemon zest...

...the butter...

...lemon juice, and olive oil.

Mix everything together, so the pasta is well coated. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Now for the cheese, mix that in now.

And there you are. Done and delicious.

Grind a few twists of black pepper on top and that's it. This makes up in a bout 20 minutes which is more than enough time to spend in a hot kitchen on a broiling summer day. I even sauteed a few shrimp in white wine and tossed those in. Don't be afraid to mess with this recipe because that's what a no recipe recipe is. A dish that is anything you'd want it to be.

Coming up next, we go back to the 18th century and a grand feast in search of a  palate cleanser.
Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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